Skylanders Giants (Dad review)

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Atarifever
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Skylanders Giants (Dad review)

Postby Atarifever » November 26th, 2016, 9:30 am

So this summer when I was at an EB Games in Charlottetown PEI on family vacation, I saw that they had Skylanders Giants for Wii used and with a portal for $10. They also had a bin of used Skylanders for $1.49 each. I showed them to my 4 year old son and, thus, began his first real gaming obsession.

For anyone not in the know, Giants is the second game in the series (now up to 6 with Imaginators I believe), and has as its hook, the inclusion of giant characters, which are both more powerful than regular characters and are larger than other figures. Being a bit out of date has not seemed to decrease my son's enjoyment in the least, and he now has a very strong attachement to all things Skylanders.

The game:

The game itself plays A LOT like baby's first Zelda. You walk around fighting enemies, finding keys, solving puzzles, and completing side missions. There are contraptions you have to use to solve puzzles, and sometimes gates won't open until all enemies in an area are cleared. The difficulty level is adjustable, and this makes it possible to find the right level even for my 4 year old to not get frustrated. You can rarely walk off an edge, and I haven't found any bottomless pits, so theg ame rarely gets punishing.

Te result of all this is that my son has learned to play "real" games by playing this. He can move in 3D space, solve puzzles, read the game environment, etc. now, and never had to suffer through games above his level in order to do it. This is a long cry from learning to play "games" on an iPad by just touching the screen.

The toys:

The Skylanders toys are mainly just plastic statues. They look interesting, have good design and personality. Despite not being moveable, my son plays with them CONSTANTLY. They fight dinosaurs in his Imaginext castle, fight each other, activate super powers, etc. He loves them. When he asks me to play Skylanders with him, I always say "action figure Skylanders, or videogame Skylanders" and he is as likely to say "action figures" as the game.

As you develop up your character in the game, their stats go to the figure. This will transfer their money, level and upgrades to any game, on either console. Old characters always work in the new games.

The hook:

Each character you buy unlocks that character in the game (and requires the character to stay on the portal to be playable). However, each character does more than that. Every time you place a new character in the game, it unlocks a new challenge stage. Completing the challenges grant upgrades to things like speed and critical hits. Importantly, every Skylander you have can complete every challenge stage you unlock, so if you have 4 characters, then add a fifth, you have reason to play and complete the new stage 5 times.

In addition, adding characters of each element type increases how effective that element is for every character in the game.

There are also gates in the game that have bonus items (things like hats with special powers) inside small dungeon areas. To open these, you need a character of the same element as the gate (so an earth Skylander opens an earth gate). Once you have one of each type of element, you can open all the gates (they don't require specific characters for gates, which is good considering that there are dozens and dozens of characters). A starter pack with three characters that comes with the game is sufficient to open a lot of gates.

Finally, there is a pretty decent battle mode (A LOT like Smash Bros), and any character you own obviously becomes playable there as well. Thus, getting the characters gets you new roster options.

Overall

Overall, I think this is an incredible game to get if you're trying to get your young kids into gaming. We've got dozens of the characters now, and haven't bought any at anything close to full price, because it's an older game.

The drop-in drop-out nature of it let's a parent help out if needed, then drop back out again seamlessly. And the fact that "dying" doesn't end the level as long as your kid has any other SKyanders can help brute force even the toughest boss once you have a collection of 4 or 5 figures. (Note: it's rare that my son dies in the game at all now that he's leveled up his favourite characters).

The production values really surprised me. I thought these were lame cash grab games (not thinking about the fact that obviously if they were lame games, kids wouldn't play them, and then wouldn't buy the figures, and certainly wouldn't buy 6 years worth of games and toys).

As for the complaint that they're mercenary at separating kids from money, I would remind you to do two things. 1) Explain why Raphael and Leonardo had to have a version in space suits after they went to space on the show and a version in hockey gear after an episode aired with them at a hockey rink. Cash grabbing from kids is how toylines work. 2) Think of how you would have felt if there were a GI Joe game where your GI Joe toys went into the game world.

Besides, this game without the toys misses the whole point of why it exists, It's cool precisely because it is toys AND a game. Neither part would be particularly special alone (although both are very solid), but together, for children, it's perfect.

I would recommend this to anyone with young kids.

ActRaiser
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Re: Skylanders Giants (Dad review)

Postby ActRaiser » November 27th, 2016, 7:25 pm

Thanks for the review from a dad's perspective. I appreciate it. Good stuff

The_Fox
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Re: Skylanders Giants (Dad review)

Postby The_Fox » January 12th, 2017, 9:26 pm

I have this game, I'm a childless full fledged adult, and it's embarrassing how much I enjoy the Skylanders games. And while I think it is a good game for kids, if I actually had kids, I might actually be hesitant to buy a Skylanders game for them. I just see it turning into every trip to the store ends with them having a tantrum because they want every single Skylander.

"I'm not buying that, you already have Jet-Vac."
"This is Hurricane Jet-Vac! I HATE YOU!! (Endless screaming)"

Maybe I just don't have much faith in the kind of children I would sire, but I see it ending badly.

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Atarifever
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Re: Skylanders Giants (Dad review)

Postby Atarifever » January 12th, 2017, 9:44 pm

The_Fox wrote:I have this game, I'm a childless full fledged adult, and it's embarrassing how much I enjoy the Skylanders games. And while I think it is a good game for kids, if I actually had kids, I might actually be hesitant to buy a Skylanders game for them. I just see it turning into every trip to the store ends with them having a tantrum because they want every single Skylander.

"I'm not buying that, you already have Jet-Vac."
"This is Hurricane Jet-Vac! I HATE YOU!! (Endless screaming)"

Maybe I just don't have much faith in the kind of children I would sire, but I see it ending badly.


I wouldn't worry. My son knows Skylanders either come from the Dollarama or the used game guy at craft/flea market sales. It's about setting expectations. :)

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Retro STrife
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Re: Skylanders Giants (Dad review)

Postby Retro STrife » January 25th, 2017, 4:13 pm

Just a few days ago, I stumbled into Gamestop looking to spruce up my Wii collection, and picked up this game for $0.99. After reading the review and comments here, now I'm interested to try it out. Is it completely unplayable without the portal and figures? At the moment, I only have the game itself.

When I first heard of the Skylanders series, I didn't think it would pan out- I've definitely been surprised by its success. Some people tout the toy/game combo as some revolutionary/genius idea when, in fairness, the Mattel Hyperscan system in 2006 was based on the same concept. Except it used trading cards rather than toys. The difference though was in the execution--Skylanders did it right, and the Hyperscan was terrible and poorly marketed.

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VideoGameCritic
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Re: Skylanders Giants (Dad review)

Postby VideoGameCritic » January 25th, 2017, 11:01 pm

Nice review! I played through this game with a friend of mine (also an adult) and we had a good time. I think it's safe to say this is a game that appeals to all ages and the coop aspect works great. The figures are interesting in design and well constructed.

This is the only Skylanders game I ever tried, but from what I've heard it's the strongest in the series overall.

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Atarifever
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Re: Skylanders Giants (Dad review)

Postby Atarifever » January 27th, 2017, 5:57 am

VideoGameCritic wrote:
This is the only Skylanders game I ever tried, but from what I've heard it's the strongest in the series overall.


I can only speak to this one and "Skylanders Superchargers Racing" on Wii. Superchargers Racing has some real problems with regards to the value it offers you for your pre-existing collection (i.e. almost none), and I'll be putting a review of that up here soon too.

On the positive side for "Superchargers Racing," it is a completely different game than "Skylanders Superchargers" which is the version that appeared on all the other consoles. The developers said "Superchargers" wouldn't have been able to fit on Wii, so they built an entirely different game for the Wii from the ground up. They removed the whole adventure part and made a pure, cup based kart racer, with its own levels, goals, cut scenes, etc. I love that, because I miss the days when different consoles would get different versions of the same game, playing to the strengths and weaknesses of the individual console. That's probably one of the reasons I like the Wii so much overall, because from COD to Far Cry to Dead Space, the versions on there are always vastly different than the mainline versions.

snakeboy
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Re: Skylanders Giants (Dad review)

Postby snakeboy » January 27th, 2017, 10:42 pm

Atarifever wrote:On the positive side for "Superchargers Racing," it is a completely different game than "Skylanders Superchargers" which is the version that appeared on all the other consoles. The developers said "Superchargers" wouldn't have been able to fit on Wii, so they built an entirely different game for the Wii from the ground up. They removed the whole adventure part and made a pure, cup based kart racer, with its own levels, goals, cut scenes, etc.


Interesting. I did not know that. All of a sudden I am much more interested in this game than I was before (which I guess isn't saying a lot considering I had zero interest before).

Atarifever wrote: I love that, because I miss the days when different consoles would get different versions of the same game, playing to the strengths and weaknesses of the individual console. That's probably one of the reasons I like the Wii so much overall, because from COD to Far Cry to Dead Space, the versions on there are always vastly different than the mainline versions.


Completely agree. Seven or eight years ago lots of people complained about the Wii getting "watered down" ports, but in the end it's made it a much more interesting system than if it simply had all the same games that the Xbox 360 and PS3 had.


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